Hair is made up of fibrous cell bundles that are held together and protected by flattened cuticle cells layers from root to tip. Smooth and tight cuticles impart shine. The fibrous core (cortex region) provides hair strength. Moisture retained within the core and the cuticle layers provides hair softness, elasticity and bounce.
Our hair requires regular cleansing with hair shampoo to remove excess oil and grime accumulated from exposure to atmospheric dust and dirt. Gentle combing and brushing can minimise cuticle damage. The use of rinse-off hair conditioner after shampooing helps smoothen the hair cuticles to provide lubricity and minimize friction during combing. This will further minimize cuticle damage to maintain our natural hair shine.
What can go wrong?
The core of our hair (fibrous bundles) or the cortex region is damaged mostly during chemical treatment such as perming, rebonding, bleaching and dyeing. Damage of this nature results in porosity and stiffness of the hair. The damaged hair appears lighter in colour and lack of bounce. Severely damaged hair, such as those that have undergone repeat chemical treatment may become brittle and break easily.
Cuticles are subject to damage by daily styling and combing. Regular hard brushing due to entanglement or detangling causes damage of cuticles resulting in loss of shine and dullness. Severe damage at the ends may cause total loss of cuticle layer leading to split ends. Regular trimming has been the way to maintain free of split ends.
To improve ease of combing and to impart hair softness, especially for longer hair, commercially available hair shampoos have incorporated conditioning agents. This have led to the birth of 2-in-1 conditioning shampoo a couple of decades ago. To cater to thicker hair types, heavier conditioning agents such as silicones, that imparts hair softness and lubricity by physically coating on the hair shaft, are commonly used in conditioning shampoos. Such conditioning agents are designed to stay on the hair and do not get washed off easily. For fine hair and badly damaged hair, such conditioning agents may accumulate or “pile up” on the hair over a period of time. Over-coating of conditioning agent on hair shaft may result which will lead to weighed down hair with loss of shine and volume.
Best Practices for Hair Care
Regular cleansing with shampoo is essential to keep our hair clean but with the correct shampoo.
For fine hair, damaged hair and short hair, use shampoos that do not cause build-up of conditioning agents on hair. Use rinse-off conditioner after shampooing to repair and rejuvenate damaged core, restore bounce and volume, enhance detangling and shine. Leave-on conditioning products may be applied to boost conditioning in targeted areas such as badly damaged areas and the ends.
For thick hair, use hair conditioning shampoo followed by rinse-off hair conditioner to enhance smoothness, bounce and manageability.